Rotherham, Ponce, Peiser, Brantley and Armbrust Kicking Off Our Charter Challenges Series: The Challenge of Growth in Unprecedented Times

Good day, CharterFolk.

Today is another fun one here at CharterFolk. It’s the day we get to kick off a new series of interviews on “CharterFolk Challenges,” pressing issues confronting the charter school community as we embark upon our fourth decade of work. I am delighted that five highly respected CharterFolk from across the nation are helping us start this new series.

The new series grows out of several developments here at CharterFolk.

  • First, in my ongoing work in recent months, I have come across many folk who have helped me get smarter on some of the vexing challenges confronting the charter school movement right now, and I have wanted to find a way for the broader community to benefit from their smarts and perspective as well.
  • Secondly, I’ve been thinking a lot about how CharterFolk can become a place where we are diving in more deeply into some of these challenges, encouraging conversation especially on matters where there is a wide range of opinion within the community.
  • And thirdly, I’ve been thinking about new ways that I could pass around the mic more and let other voices start taking more of the moderating role here at CharterFolk.

All that culminated in me reaching out to Andy to see if he might be interested in moderating a discussion on a tough CharterFolk Challenge, and if so what topic might he want to dive into and what participants would he like to invite. A few conversations and a little outreach later, and we were able to put together a great discussion which I am thrilled to share with you today. I extend thanks to Pat, Brett, John and Ana for being part of a great conversation, and an extra special thank you to Andy for having been willing to moderate.

I do hope you find a chance to view the discussion in its entirety. A few highlights include:

  • Andy starting things off asking participants to grade the charter school world in terms of maintaining growth and increased impact during this time of unprecedented challenge.
  • At minute 12, Brett dives into the need to both “stay focused on the here and now” including the additional needs that current students and families have, while remaining postured to accelerate growth when political conditions permit it.
  • At 25:30, Ana recounts how difficult it is in the current environment to find all the teachers and other staff that we need to increase and improve services for existing students, never mind enable growth.
  • At 33:10 John explains how the Texas authorizing structure enables the expansion of existing schools, but the approval of new charter schools has become so politicized that it is making it very difficult for new startup charter schools to get established.
  • At 42:45 Pat talks about the new challenge that charter school sectors encounter when they grow to serve roughly half of public school students as is the case now in DC, and how the needs for improved advocacy and empowering parents become even more pronounced.
  • Finally, Andy wraps things up asking the leaders to share the elevator pitch that they would make to funders right now if they had the chance to make the case for investments likely to accelerate charter school growth.

I hope you all find the discussion as illuminating and enjoyable as I did.

Meanwhile, be on the lookout for upcoming CharterFolk Challenges discussions in the months ahead. And if anyone has thoughts or ideas about what would be great topics to dive into, please reach out to me directly at